The white American former police officer who killed black George Floyd has been given 22.5 years in jail. The judge announced the penalty today, a jury had found 45-year-old Derek Chauvin guilty in April. He could have received the maximum penalty of 40 years.
The prosecutors demanded 30 years in jail. Chauvin‘s lawyers argued precisely that he deserved only a suspended sentence because he was only trying to do his job in a “broken system”. Chauvin is expected to appeal the punishment.
For the motivation of the ruling, the judge referred to the 22-page verdict. In court, he said that he applies law and has not been guided by public opinion, emotion, or sympathy for anyone.
Before the verdict, a brother of Floyd asked for life again. “We don’t want light punishment. We‘ve seen that many times enough,” he said.
After the verdict, there was disappointment with the next of kin. Floyd’s cousin said that because of the video proof, he was convinced that Chauvin would receive the maximum penalty:
Before the judge came to his ruling, Chauvin himself had time to speak in court. “I offer my condolences to the Floyd family,” he said and added that information will be released in the future that will have the interest of the family. “And I hope those things will give you some kind of rest. Thank you.”
Chauvin‘s mother also spoke in court. “My son’s identity has been narrowed to that of a racist,” she said. “I want this court to know that this is not true and that my son is a good person.”
Chauvin pushed Floyd in May last year as a policeman against the asphalt for minutes with his knee on his neck. The black American was suspected of issuing a fake note of 20. Even when he protested that he couldn‘t get any more air and eventually slackened, Chauvin kept pushing him down.
The judge had said earlier that there were aggravating circumstances because Chauvin could have known that his action was life-threatening, there was abuse of power, and children were watching.
Black Lives Matter
Because the death of the black man in its entirety was filmed by a passerby, the incident led to many protests, not only in Minneapolis and the US itself, but worldwide. Along with other examples of extreme police violence against black civilians, Floyd’s death gave a significant boost to the Black Lives Matter movement, which was founded after the death of unarmed teenager Treyvon Martin.
Around the jury‘s ruling two months ago, Minneapolis took account of unrest if the agent were acquitted. Stores closed their windows and the court was thrown off by the National Guard with barbed wire and barriers. No riots are expected this time.
Chauvin was fired shortly after the incident. Three other colleagues also lost their jobs. They’ll be trial later for complicity to murder.
The former agent has been stuck in an extra secure prison outside Minneapolis since his conviction. For his own safety, he is kept separate from the rest of the prisoners. It will later be announced whether he should serve his sentence there too.